Michael Bolton’s “Time, Love & Tenderness” (1991)

I didn’t know who Michael Bolton was until The Lonely Island’s song  “Jack Sparrow” debuted on Saturday Night Live in 2011. I’m sure some of the humor of the song was lost on me because I didn’t know who Bolton was, but I loved the song. The first week of this July of 2013 is dedicated to two of Bolton’s 1990-1999 releases, the first of which being the 1991 “Time, Love & Tenderness.”

Five of the album’s ten songs have ‘Love’ in the name, so if the album name “Time, Love & Tenderness” didn’t tip you off that this is an album of love songs. Michael Bolton’s got what you need for love songs, which is a beautiful, convincing delivery of lyrics that might make you cringe if you actually paid attention to them. It’s hard to say if that a good thing, or a bad thing. Bolton could be singing really well-written love songs, right? Perhaps I’m just being critical of the genre. At the very least, Bolton sounds spectacular and that’s all I can really say about the man’s skill – so I’ll shift my critical focus to the sound of the album.

You may recall that I non-ironically loved the dated sounds of Jodeci’s “Forever My Lady” which was also released in 1991, however I can’t say I feel the same about “Time, Love & Tenderness.” I wouldn’t say any of the songs are written poorly; some have good beats, nice melodies, but some of the cheesier musical choices are harder to embrace. What stood out in particular were the reverb-heavy, electric-sounding drums that sounded like Yamaha Keyboard samples, which were distracting in the otherwise decent and even enjoyable title track “Time, Love & Tenderness.” I have to say the beat of “Missing You Now”  which has some pretty ironically 90’s drum machine elements, wouldn’t be the same without that sound. The sounds of that decade are the sounds of that decade, and if I’m going to sit back and enjoy some of the sounds from that era I’ve got to accept that they’re not all winners. And “Time, Love & Tenderness” doesn’t suffer because it sounds cheesy most of the time – it suffers with me on a personal level because love songs aren’t my cup of tea – but it’s hard not to say that the album isn’t okay.

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